Tech Life A relaxed attitude

More Messy Thinking

Let’s start with the visual…

30 x 23 baby

This new monitor configuration keeps popping up the engineering team and after walking into enough offices thinking, “Useful or flashy?”, I decided to give it a whirl.

The basic usage pattern is unchanged. The left screen is for the active workspace whereas the right screen is the palette screen — utility windows like calendar, Twitter, instant messaging, and stickies which require a glance now and then, but aren’t playing in the primary workspace.

After getting over the initial shock of the verticalness of the right monitor, I have the following thoughts:

  • The windows you see on that monitor are unchanged in terms of shape from the original configuration. They tend to be tall, narrow windows which means they fit perfectly on the rotated monitor and they have new room to grow.
  • While this screen shot doesn’t show it, the vertical monitor is a great space for scads of semi-translucent terminal windows. MmmmmmmMMm Terminal Windows.
  • That’s the stand of the monitor jutting off the right hand side of the picture. I haven’t looked at how it’s attached to the monitor to see if it’s non-trivial to remove, but the resulting angle of the monitor leaning back against the bookshelf is, well, pleasant. It’s leaning back more than the primary workspace and it gives the monitor a relaxed attitude.
  • It’s likely a result of the new shape, but I’m suddenly feel I’ve discovered the bottom of the right monitor.

You can see the evolution of my desktop as well as my fascination with baseball caps here and here, but it’s more important to understand why you need all these pixels by reading the original Messy Thinking article.

23 Responses

  1. Looks like the O’Reilly books on the shelf haven’t moved in awhile 🙂

    -ch

  2. I knew I wasn’t the only person on earth who went through vertical monitor phases!

  3. John Muir 9 years ago

    Fingers crossed for something vertical / variable geometry at NAB. Or whenever. Just make it soon Steve…

  4. WindozeKiller 9 years ago

    Get a VESA mount that allows you to rotate back and forth between horizontal and vertical. No foot sticking out AND frees up desk space!

  5. Jon H 9 years ago

    It always seems to me as if the monitor is *far* taller when vertical than it was wide when horizontal.

    Must be an optical illusion, but it’s weird.

  6. Johnsel 9 years ago

    Does anyone know of a VESA stand that will support a 30″ Cinema and let you rotate it vertical (portrait)?

    I’ve looked around and the weight of the cinema seems to preclude all the mounts I’ve found except for wall mounts which I’m not interested in. I want something that can sit on my desk.

  7. @Johnsel: The iLift arm appears to support the Cinema Display.

    (http://www.lcdarms.com/products/LCD_Radial_Arms/iLift.html)

    Reviewed here: http://paulstamatiou.com/2007/02/26/review-ilift-vesa-arm/

    Depends on whether you are willing to spend the money ($200+), but it appears solid.

  8. I use a similar setup. For me, the vertical monitor is killer for serious reading. When I’m reading long documents (usually web pages), there’s nothing like going full-screen on a portrait monitor. Paper is dead to me.

  9. nicholas paredes 9 years ago

    Remember the radius b+w pivot monitors? Mine was connected to a IIci. Vertical was not my thing, except for the tablet PC.

  10. Can we see a shot of how the vertical screen is supported? Is it secure?

  11. Chris 9 years ago

    Do you need any special software to tell OS X you’ve pivoted the monitor?

  12. Weird. I’ve been doing this for the past year or so. I use a rotating VESA mount that just about cost as much as the cheap-ass monitor itself. To answer the above, OS X supports vertical orientation off-the-shelf.

    Portrait orientation is great for PDFs… in my work I have to deal with lots of documents. It’s also great (the only way imo) for reading comic books on the computer.

  13. A bunch of people at my work (Google) use this configuration. I tend to just keep emacs open on both monitors, though, so it’s easiest to have them horizontal.

    I leave my laptop open on my desk as the email/IM/wasteful screen.

  14. In what world is Twitter a “utility?” 🙂

  15. I used a similar set up for a while (using two non-wide 20″ screens). At first I thought of the vertical one my secondary screen, but then actually started using it for most of the real work.

    It’s great for reading web pages and PDFs and for programming, word processing and spreadsheets.

    Didn’t try using it for design or photo work, though.

    I really hope Apple will rediscover the value of vertical screens one day.

  16. Chris Ryland 9 years ago

    The odd thing I found is that the 30″ Apple display is really too large to use vertically–you find yourself craning up and down too much.

  17. I’ve been doing this for ages now – it started out when we got a Pivot monitor for my Mac IIfx, oh, so long ago, and it’s been going on ever since, even on the Windows machines I have to use at the office.

    The vertical layout is simply more efficient for reviewing (and drafting) documents, since you don’t spend as much time distracted with the need to scroll things around.

  18. I’ve been using this layout at the office for some 3 three years now. Admittedly I use it on a Dell Laptop when connected to an external monitor, but it’s really useful for me.

    In my case I develop a lot of applications for the local business, most of them web-based. The fact that 90% of the users have the same laptop as me and that the monitor when rotated has the same width as the laptop makes it easier to do things that will look good when viewed in the smaller screen, while still leaving me plenty of space below for terminals and IM chats.

    I liked vertical since the old radius monitors, and set-up the laptop to vertical for the external monitor as soon as I could (I should note how terrible Windows is handling multiple monitors.

    I should note, too, that it seems no Windows user had ever known that could be done (both the spanning and the rotation) and I’ve just reinforced the idea that IT people (and macheads especially) are weird. 🙂

  19. I’ve been using this layout at the office for some 3 three years now. Admittedly I use it on a Dell Laptop when connected to an external monitor, but it’s really useful for me.

    In my case I develop a lot of applications for the local business, most of them web-based. The fact that 90% of the users have the same laptop as me and that the monitor when rotated has the same width as the laptop makes it easier to do things that will look good when viewed in the smaller screen, while still leaving me plenty of space below for terminals and IM chats.

    I liked vertical since the old radius monitors, and set-up the laptop to vertical for the external monitor as soon as I could (I should note how terrible Windows is handling multiple monitors.

    I should note, too, that it seems no Windows user had ever known that could be done (both the spanning and the rotation) and I’ve just reinforced the idea that IT people (and macheads especially) are weird. 🙂

  20. Silly question, however what is the make/model of the two monitors?

  21. Marcin 9 years ago

    No one yet mentioned how the orientation change affects sub-pixel antialiasing (which a) usually expects sub-pixels to be oriented horizontally and b) is much more effective when they are). This is the reason I don’t use a monitor vertically — the text looks noticeably worse, especially at smaller font sizes.

  22. Elliot 9 years ago

    I dropped this layout for exactly the same reason as Marcin. At least on Windows, sub-pixel rendering will not work at all with a rotated screen.

  23. I have a laptop with a 19″ LCD running as the second monitor. I really wanted yet another screen, then I found out about this gem:

    http://synergy2.sourceforge.net/

    It is a software solution that forwards the main keyboard and mouse to another system as the mouse moves off the edge of the last screen. Man is this nice! The clipboard works also, so moving small bits of text is a breeze. Because the third monitor is on another system, if the CPU start chugging on something I just move back and start something else. I’m thinking of adding yet another system for four monitors!